Conflicting views on the proposed Energy East pipeline were on full display in Carp Wednesday night.
Trans Canada, the pipeline developers, held a safety information session at Carp Agricultural Hall, while members of environmental group Ecology Ottawa handed out pamphlets outside warning about the dangers of oil spills.
The event featured kiosks, iPads and scale models of the proposed pipeline. Dozens of community residents attended, though they were largely outnumbered by Trans Canada volunteers and employees.
Tim Duboyce, senior communications specialist with Trans Canada, felt there was a positive reaction from the community. He attributes this to the existing natural gas pipeline that runs through the area.
“In places where you already have a presence, I think people are used to pipelines,” said Duboyce. “Once they feel they’re familiar, they don’t necessarily have any more questions to ask.”
The Energy East pipeline would transport crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the refineries and marine terminal in Eastern Canada. The natural gas pipeline running through Carp (and just west of Stittsville) would be converted into an oil pipeline.
Ecology Ottawa opposes this plan and has been active around Stittsville and West Carleton petitioning to stop its construction.
“We’ve knocked on about 6000 doors,” said volunteer Mike Fletcher. “I’d say people who agree with us are well outnumbering people who disagree and think the pipelines are a good idea.”
Fletcher had originally booked a room adjacent to Trans Canada’s information session to tell his group’s side of the story.
However the Carp Agricultural Society rescinded the rental once they learned of his affiliation with Ecology Canada, purportedly for fear of damage to their facility by protesters.
Fletcher believes this reaction was exaggerated and he ensures the group had no intention of disturbing the peace.
“You’re not going to convince the neighbours the pipeline is a bad idea by going loony,” he said. “I know my community. I know it wouldn’t fly.”
A Trans Canada event hosted in Stittsville in October 2013 saw impassioned opposition to the plan. One individual was asked to leave for taking photos and waving a sign that read “Trans Canada lies.”
The event in Carp was a comparatively even-tempered affair. The most overt political statement made by Ecology Ottawa Wednesday wasn’t a sign or a protest song.
Instead it was a Chevy Volt charging out front – a not-so-subtle reminder to the community that clean-energy is a viable alternative.